The present book has a long history that is necessary to summarize here. In 1970, when acting as Director of the Research Project on ‘Political Conceptions in the Ancient Near East’ (sponsored by the Italian CNR), I planned a collective work on the international relations of the Near East in the Late Bronze age. The original plan included an introduction to the subject (by myself), a chapter on the exchange of gifts (by C. Zaccagnini), one on matrimonial exchange (by F. Pintore) and one on the exchange of letters (by G. Del Monte). But very soon it became clear that the original ‘chapters’ were growing into books, which (Del Monte excepted) eventually happened: that by C. Zaccagnini was published in 1973 as Lo scambio dei doni nel Vicino Oriente durante i secoli XV–XIII, and that by F. Pintore was published in 1978 as Il matrimonio interdinastico nel Vicino Oriente durante i secoli XV–XIII. My ‘introduction’ had also begun to assume book proportions, and I worked intensively on it during the early 1970s, being later on distracted by more urgent tasks and by periods of low productivity. In 1984 I took the opportunity of a sabbatical year to resume work on the subject and write the basic manuscript; this was done in Chicago. Back in Rome, I was again distracted by various engagements until the period from January to July 1989, which I was able to keep entirely free in order to complete the book.
A first edition appeared in 1990, as Prestige and Interest. International Relations in the Near East ca. 1600–1100 B.C. (Padua: Sargon). This was basically devoted to the specialized audience of ancient Near Eastern scholars and, as a result, was filled with philological details and minute bibliographical references. An Italian edition appeared in 1994, as Guerra e diplomazia nell'antico Oriente, 1600–1100 a.C. (Rome and Bari: Laterza). This was devoted chiefly to a larger audience of Italian readers, with no philological details, drastically selected bibliography and illustrations. The very limited impression of the English-language Padua edition had in the meantime completely sold out.
In September 1996, on the occasion of the Rockefeller-funded conference in Bellagio on ‘Amarna Diplomacy’, the papers of which were eventually published under the editorship of R. Cohen and R. Westbrook as Amarna Diplomacy. The Beginnings of International Relations (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), I met Professor Geoffrey Berridge. He suggested that I publish in a revised form my Prestige and Interest, a book